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Archive for April, 2012

DIY Native Plant Gardening

April 26th, 2012 at 05:32 pm

Want to see a front yard makeover from The Frugal Artisan? This is not HGTV please, but more of a non-commercial reality show. My last blog was about landscaping without grass, and bringing in natives. So without further ado, roll em....

The Right Bank (as opposed to the Left Bank)


Facing the house, grass was taken out of the center of the front yard right bank. A strip of grass was left next to the driveway for entering/exiting autos cleanly. Using a hand shovel and rocks from elsewhere in the yard, the right bank now has a meandering rock swale through the middle. The rock swale will move ponded water (from the upper end near the wood gate) down through the property.

From top to bottom of swale:

- ceanothus concha (left, in pot on the driveway) will go in next to the upper end of the creek. Will be 6-8 feet tall and wide. Purposely large to screen the gate and house exterior. Deep purple lilac in spring/summer.

- Sage penstemon margarita BOP (right, mid way in small pot on the dirt). This is a hummingbird bush! Purple blooms. Low to ground bush, about 2' high x 4' wide.

- Matilija poppy (left, planted). You've seen it and probably thought it as the 'fried egg' flower. BIG white crepe paper petals with the yellow fuzzy middle. Scraggly kind of bush which can get BIG.

- Lavendar (right, planted). Not pointed out on the photo, but there are two tiny lavendar plants foreground in the soil. I hope they get at least moderate in size.

I want to cover all the soil so it doesn't show (or will cover with wood chips if I have to). So left to do is a few starters of groundcover, probably a flowering (native) purple verbena that attracts butterflies. I also had some wildflower seeds saved for years from handouts at nature conferences and events. So I raked them in willy nilly. If they are too old I'll still be pleased if only a few sprout.

And must relocate a pink rose to the left and near the front (by the sidewalk).

So are you interested in costs?

$ 19.00 Ceanothus
3.50 penstemon margarita
12.00 Matilija poppy
0.00 lavendar
0.00 rocks
0.00 wildflower seeds
0.00 wood chips (if needed)
7.00 ground cover starters (estimated)
--------
$ 41.50

SWEET! Come back and see pics in 2 years as this is going to be a jungle! Just kidding, I am good with trimming and maintenance.

Coming soon 'The Left Bank - Edibles are Us'.

Out with the grass -> in with the Native Plants and Produce

April 25th, 2012 at 03:49 pm

Was it doldrums? A desire for nicer curb appeal? Why are we taking out the perfectly good grass in the front yard? It's a small area (probably two pieces about 10' x 20' each split by a concrete driveway). But in decent condition and comparable to the others in the neighborhood.

Not that we have a set plan or schedule for equipping the house with environmental features, but my husband and I seem to tend toward it. Ticking off the list already:

o Last year the solar panels went onto the roof
o Long term yard waste and worm bin composters
o Backyard and green house food producing
o Under sink on demand hot water (electric)
o Ultra low flow toilets
o a couple rain barrels at the gutters
o backyard full of native plant species

The tipping point was that drainage from the back to front of the lot is getting worse and big pools formed when it rains in the walkways. A little digging and installing a rock swale in both flow paths would send water along better.

So out with the grass and in with the swales. We already have big river rocks (from the soil and yard when we moved in). Previously around a group of 4 rose bushes, they got reassigned.

Cost nothing yet. But wait! My DH really had a larger vision to naturalize the front anyway. He (rightly) wanted to use some of the space for edibles. Whatever space remained would be natives with a goal of not watering anymore.

It's taken me some years, but what used to be coastal sage brush blobs to me are now wonderfully scented sages and wildflowers that go dormant/bloom following the seasons. And I see the contribution to wildlife, not only hummingbirds and butterflies.

So I get to do the natives! The first thing I am going to put in is a Matilija Poppy, that BIG white flower with the crepe paper texture petals. It is a scraggly sort of bush, but I've always adored the flower.



Next will be a ceanothus bush (small dark green leaf and purple lilac flower), there are many types and this one is local:



I'm already patronizing the local native plant nursery, they have loads of expertise. I am thinking of some small hummingbird penstemon or butterfly flowers. That's about all the room I have.

The only other issue is that I really love having cut flowers for inside (and almost NEVER buy flowers just for that reason). So the roses get relocated and I may put in some bulbs next fall.

In progress photos to follow!

Make Earth Day Every Day - Silk Mini Bags a Hit

April 23rd, 2012 at 06:21 pm

I love my online shop but it can be a confidence whittling, time draining enterprise periodically. I worked hard that first couple years getting Pretty Cheap Jewelry high on the google (and search engine) returns. During that time I must have been doing something right because I made enough income to at least pay for my expenses.

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It was an endurance test, though, waiting a month between selling one thing (sometimes longer). Was my stuff ugly? The word 'cheap' a turn off? Or was there just too much competition?

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I hung in there and managed my supplies carefully so I could buy a pop up tent with earnings and dive headfirst into live person events the next couple years. Jewelry without doubt, sells better in person. After investing lots of weekend time, my daughter was heard to say more than once, "You're busy again?!" or "stay home this weekend and help me with homework". So once again I reevaluated and made adjustments to the business practices and picked very carefully which events would be more successful with less time commitment for me.

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So it was SUCH a pleasure that this Sunday I had very good sales out front of my local art gallery in the harbor. Even though it was cool and foggy.
It was a low-key, informal display which I made recycled guitar string bracelets (it was Earth Day after all).

I brought a few different things such as the funny collage cards (made from magazines and catalogs) and silk mini-bags (made from retired neckties). It was Earth Day after all.

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Why these silk mini bags don't get much attention on line is a mystery. Maybe folks aren't looking for them? Because in person they were the most popular thing to see on Sunday! Everyone from grandma's to kids took a look. Two were sold, and a shop owner from a new boutique in town asked me to bring some for selling!!

Silk Mini Bag - Diagonal Stripe
Perfectly fits a cell phone, driver license, or gift card. Pure silk, with shoulder cord.


This is the kind of day that gives me a shot in the arm! Though I remind myself often this is a fun sideline it's also a great feeling when the income comes in (not to mention the amazing tax relief from having a home business.)

Thanks for having a read !

High Jumped over this Little Obstacle!

April 22nd, 2012 at 01:10 am

Track and field volunteering today, so high jumping came to mind. But really it was just a funny thing that happened on the way to the thrift store...

I had a big bag of boys clothes to drop off at the end of the day. And decided to stop in before going home to the hubbub. Ticked off in my mind what the 'need' list was and remembered a cozy very casual sweatshirt would bring utmost happiness. (My current favorite has been sewed up once already).

It always cracks me up, the thrift stores have sales! Today it was 10 clothes for $10. OK, not bad! But you had to buy 10 to get the discount. I went in and looked for the perfect sweatshirt. Found a really nice cashmere top by Juicy Couture (though I don't follow labels, am sure this is good quality). And a fairly good but cozy sweatshirt. And one or two other decent tops for work. Nothing in the interesting blouse section or comfortable pant area.

The manager made an announcement the store was closing in 1/2 hour.

I noticed at least 3 or 4 other ladies doing speed shopping to get up to 10 items. I considered bailing out on the deal cause I really didn't want ten new things. I had 5 and though I looked fast and thoroughly didn't even find 5 more things that were worth it.

Then a little flash of brilliance happened. I snuck a look at the cool lady near me and saw she needed a few more things. So I asked.

"Do you want to get 5 things and I'll get 5 things and we'll pay together?"

The lightbulb went off in her head too! YES of course!

So how fun is that!?

Just one more good thing to chalk up this weekend. Bleached my kitchen counter grout and cut the backyard grass. Feeling happy all around!

Tomorrow is Earth Day in Action! I'm doing a recycled guitar string bracelet demo at our harbor art gallery. Here is one available for purchase if you want to make that environmental statement on your arm!

Blue and Gold
Recycled guitar string makes this bracelet unusual and interesting. I always get comments when wearing around town. This one is perfect with jeans and everyday with turquoise, black pearl, ivory pearl and gold matte glass.



More photos and details
HERE

Thanks for your time and tweets and good weekend everyone!

Working on Figure Skate Outfit

April 18th, 2012 at 08:25 pm

Other crafting and sewing in progress:

Figure Skate Outfit
An experienced seamstress did the outfit, I am adding glue on crystals at the straps and skirt. The swarovski crystals are a very large part of the cost of these outfits (about 1/2).



There are 24 crystals each strap (back not shown), 66 crystals on the skirt.

With the scraps from the skirt I am making a hair band to match.

Am posting this so I can show the craft forum on craigslist (who helped with advice how to attach the crystals).

PrettyCheap meets CreepyGirl

April 18th, 2012 at 03:27 pm

So happy that I was picked to make a pair of sterling silver freshwater pearl spray earrings by special order this past week. How a newcomer found me on Etsy I'm not sure (sometimes I ask, but not this time). We emailed back and forth and settled on a description and specifics of what she wanted. I sent her this sketch so we were both clear-



One of the supplies was to be sterling silver chain and there is a bead store a few blocks from work. I routinely walk over there at lunch (though I try not to enter unless I have a definite item and budget with me). Their chain is very reasonably priced, and a certain one which would fit was 6" for $6. I didn't purchase, but would use the information to prepare the cost estimate.

Another part I needed were white rice freshwater pearls which I had no inventory on hand. I was happy to see Michael's had what I needed and since they were minimal investment and useful for future work, I bought them. And of course I saved half using a coupon. Finally were the sterling silver french ear hooks, which I did have on hand in my stock.

With these supplies and costs known, I proposed to the customer a final price of $18 plus shipping.

She accepted! Her online name is CreepyGirl Big Grin

They in fact are done but I need to take good photos and put for sale in my Etsy store. Will do so tonight or tomorrow, come back and see!

Reaching Back where Dior meets Disco

April 12th, 2012 at 05:26 pm

Oh so retro! Do you wander those collectible malls? Most of the time I am not much interested, so much of it is just STUFF (and I am kind of anti stuff). But instead of buying new there is something to be gained buying an old frame or mirror or funnel or fur collar that has stood the test of time.

Anyway, there is a fairly high demand for vintage. It sells well on Etsy (it's supposed to be used for recycling into something new as a supply on that site).

Here is a treasury of vintage things using my earrings (second row, last box) as the starting point. It is another entry in a contest this week of treasuries that start with my earrings. I have to pick a favorite by Friday! Want to recommend your choice? See a few other entries in my past 3 blog posts.

Move Over Gucci, Make Room for Rhett
Love the Adolfo (and a good price), but the Chanel?! Anyway, I'm always impressed by the photo quality of the sellers.



Get a closer look at the stuff
here

Different Points of View

April 11th, 2012 at 03:59 pm

My on line wire artist team is featuring one of my handmade earrings this week in etsy treasuries. A treasury is a grouping of 16 things, usually with a theme such as color or subject.

It's been fun seeing the different ways people take this contest starting with my earrings. At the end of the week I have to pick a favorite! Help!!

Here are 2 more of the treasuries (see my previous posts for others):

Big Honey
This one plays up the gold color (my earrings are the first item), click here to see it closer. That last necklace is an artful bargain.



Over the Rainbow
This one picks up the color variety in my earrings (2nd item), click here to see each thing closer. The crayon photo is inventive (but expensive), but the housing photo is pleasing and a great price.



Hope you are enjoying watching this contest!

Splashy and Cheap Fun

April 10th, 2012 at 04:09 pm

This week a pair of earrings I designed and made is being shown in each Etsy treasury made by fellow wire artists on line. A treasury is a pretty show of 16 handmade things from other sellers on Etsy. Usually a treasury has a theme, such as color or subject. They are popular with visitors to the site, the very best gets on the Etsy front page (which gets hundreds and hundreds of clicks each day). Extremely sought after, being on the FP is how OhioArt feels after a presidential candidate held up an Etch A Sketch on television.

Here is one of the nicer treasuries with my earrings (2nd row, third item) so far this week:



The orange and aqua tie it together. Even the VW bus photo fits in great!

You can come in and click around on this treasury, and thousands of others (not by the wire artists)
HERE

Thanks for the time and the reading!

Purposely behind the trends {but never the style}

April 9th, 2012 at 04:26 pm

Bird's nests have a universal appeal. Women love them simply for the nurturing aspect, guys admire the effort made by the creature. When my daughter was very young, e.g. before 5 years old, she delighted in spotting nests otherwise overlooked by the rest of us. She was good at this and we marveled often at her good eye and the nests. Since we have an animal friendly back yard (lots of native trees for habitat and food) the occasional one would fall and she would keep it for awhile.

At least 3 years ago, bird nest jewelry was popular in the crafting world. I loved the look but didn't pursue trying to make my own. But I never forgot and have come round to adding it to my repertoire.

Bird Nest Earrings
Simple and natural, bird nest earrings are a symbol of spring. Pure white or unusual black pearls are nestled in silver colored wire. Lots of color possibilities, imagine little turquoise 'robin eggs'!





Bird nest earrings to be offered to email subscribers only (sign up left sidebar) at an introductory price of $7.50 pair. Matching bird nest earring/necklace sets to come soon!

ABSTAIN on the April Daily Spending Challenge

April 6th, 2012 at 03:14 pm

As one of the participants quipped upon reluctantly joining the fun, "worried cause I have a big pool of spending money", I am going to pass on tracking daily spending in April. Not that I have a big pool of money, but because I want to use this blog more for my small business (not family) life.

But questions:
How does the challenge compare for a person spending on oneself with a person spending with kids involved (such as myself)?

How would it work for spending when there is a spouse in the picture?

For example: this week I've made purchases something to the effect

Small Busin - Tues $1.60 Jewelry Supplies
All Purpose - Weds $39.00 Gas
Kid's Friend- Thur $21.00 Dinner Out for kid and her friend
Kid or Me(?)- next week redeem a coupon for $20 (but spend $20) at Old Navy

In the meantime watch for a new style coming from my jewelry bench (bird nest theme).

Here are a couple photos of a mosaic style cuff I recently completed. I love this style and predict it will be a new trend. Easy to adapt to pendants and earrings (and you can be sure there will be both here soon)!

Mosaic Pearl Cuff
Great mix of pearl, stone and glass are wired into a nice quality elegant bracelet. Any color scheme is possible! Shown (top to bottom): white orange pop, blues




Got a Good Deal on the iPod Touch

April 4th, 2012 at 06:51 pm

Following up to a story I wrote about a week ago involving taking my own advice on buying good used late model electronics: the iPod Touch arrived and is completely satisfactory. Whew!

I normally peruse Craig's list when considering something technical and buying the brand new item is not acceptable. With Craig's I've had good experience obtaining a couple digital cameras, selling a pellet rifle, etc. With some advance research online as to what appurtenances are necessary (software? cables? batteries?) and meeting the seller in person, the risk is very low.

This time we were interested in an iPod touch. Very expensive new, and which hold a very high value even used. So I took a chance and checked eBay. These thingy's are still a premium, lots of bidders but also lots of choices. I went for a 1 year old device from a small computer refurbishing biz. The seller responded to my questions within a couple hours and all seemed to check out ok. So I held my breath and bid the last 30 seconds at about half the price of new. Won!

It came at the beginning of the week and glad to report all is well. But the risk still makes me nervous and I'm not buying anything else anytime soon.

Here's another really good deal, new work off my jewelry bench...

Pastel Pearl Mosaic Cuff Bracelet
The wire mosaic look is the new trend (I predict) and I love the color mix on this cuff.



Original and affordable, see here for more details. A great deal for $35.00

Two other cuffs available (not shown): blue ; red/white/orange pop

Thanks for reading!